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‘No pressure on BJP in UP despite Bengal debacle’

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LUCKNOW: The BJP brass in Uttar Pradesh said it’s not under any pressure about key assembly elections due next year, a day after the saffron party failed to wrest West Bengal despite heavy deployment of a political machinery led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah.
UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh said, Uttar Pradesh is a different political turf and can’t be compared to Bengal.
“We have a robust presence in the state with stalwarts like chief minister Yogi Adityanath in the vanguard. The party has been in power multiple times in the past too,” he said, while speaking to TOI on Monday.
Singh’s assertion came amidst Bharatiya Janata Paty’s failure to cash in on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, when the party won 18 of 42 parliamentary seats in West Bengal.
“I think the party did not possess an organisational strength to take on the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal. Also, BJP did not have a local face in the state to get the desired results,” the UP BJP chief said. While chief minister Yogi Adityanath was one of the star campaigners in Bengal, the UP unit of BJP too deployed its organisational leaders, including deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, state general secretary (organisation), Sunil Bansal and state general secretary JPS Rathore in Bengal.
Singh, however, maintained the party attained organisational strength to raise its tally from three in 2016 to 77 this year. Experts said, BJP managed to replace Congress and Left, which were routed. The vote share of BJP too rose from 10% five years ago to over 38% this time.
Experts said, trends of UP panchayat elections were also a cause of worry for the saffron party, which faces a stiff challenge from Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party. While Singh said, he hoped for good results in rural local bodies’ polls, a senior BJP leader said, rural poll trends are an eye-opener for the party, which has been trying to expand its rural outreach.
The UP BJP had fielded functionaries in panchayat elections to feel the grassroots pulse before the high-stakes assembly polls next year. “Regional parties like SP and BSP have reasonable presence in rural areas, where we need to work more,” said a senior BJP leader. Another BJP leader said, panchayat elections were more about local influential candidates, who happen to dictate terms in villages.


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